Old Earth Creationism and the New Heavens and New Earth
One major tenet or belief of OEC is the belief not only that the earth is old in terms of millions or even billions of years as science purports, but also that physical death pre-dates the sin of Adam.
OEC proponents like Norm Geisler assert that Adam’s sin only brought about the spiritual death of mankind. His contention is true that Romans 5:12-21 only speaks of the sin bringing about separation (spiritual death) of man from God. Man died spiritually in the Garden of Eden, but death of animal life predates the events spoken of in Genesis 3.
The problem for us then is what exactly God defines as, “good.”
Now let’s just assume for a minute that OEC is correct. In Genesis 1:31 it says that God looked upon all that He had created for the last some 4.5 billions years, looked upon all of the death and decay in the world He had made and declared it to be “Tov Meod” (very good) Tov Meod is an emphatic statement. It refers to a level of “goodness” that can’t be improved upon; it is as good as it is gets.
So God who engineered death and decay into His creation declares that the earth is as good as it can ever be. God can’t be in error and He can’t create imperfection because there is no imperfection in Him. So based on Genesis 1:31, a world that has billions of years of death and decay BEFORE sin was in the earth, was in a state of perfection.
Now fast forward to the end of the age in the book of Revelation chapters 21 and 22.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. Rev 21:1-5
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: Rev 22:1-3
Compare this with the following end times description offered by Isaiah:
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. Isa 11:6-9
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
Notice that in connection with Christ’s reign in the New Heavens and New Earth the Bible speaks of no more curse, pain, death, tears, and this includes the animal kingdom according to the passages listed above all of which refer to the same time period.
All of this occurs AFTER sin is eradicated from the world. We can know what the original earth was like before sin by looking at what the world will be like after sin is gone.
Yet the OEC would have us believe that the death and decay, the predator/prey relationship that existed between animals all of that was part of what God called “very good.”
So if that is what the world was like prior to sin, how come we don’t get this same picture of the earth after sin is eradicated? Why would God need to renovate the earth and get of all death of both man and beast if that was what He considered good and perfect to begin with? Why is sin connected to the physical death of both man and beast in terms of eschatology, but not connected to them relevant to their original creation?
Clearly if death and decay were so good that God felt He had created the best possible world for man to live in, it is hard to explain how God could have made a better world with no death of any man or animal. Is the world with death and decay better than the one made with no death of any kind of animal or human being? If the latter is better, than it stands to reason, it would have to have been at least as good as the original, and that means the original earth had no death either. The OEC view that death and decay within the created order existed prior to man’s sin doesn’t hold water, theologically because death and decay among the animals is connected to sin in Revelation 21.